Disaster preparedness for pet owners


Disaster Preparedness for Every Member of Your Family

Disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. Preparation and planning will protect your family, including your pets. Those who take the time to prepare themselves and their pets will likely encounter less difficulty, stress, and worry. Take time now to get yourself and your pets ready. Make several copies of your disaster plan so you don’t forget anything when the time comes.

Plan Ahead

Preplan for Two Possibilities
What to do if you must evacuate and what to do if you remain in your home. Plan with neighbors, friends, and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

Identify Shelter
Many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. Keep a list of ”pet friendly” places with your emergency information. Another option is to board pets at a kennel, veterinarian’s office, or with friends or relatives.

Identify Your Pets
Take a picture of you and your pets together to help document ownership. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color, and distinguishing characteristics.

Your pets should always wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification tag containing your name, animal’s name, address, and phone number. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification like micro-chipping.

Disaster Supply Kit
Each animal should have its own supplies and written instructions for care and maintenance.


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Portraits by Hilary Running

Disaster Supply Kit

Just as you do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival for your pets. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you and your pets will need to stay where you are. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to evacuate. Plus, be sure to review your kits regularly to ensure that their contents, especially foods and medicines, are fresh.

Food & Water
Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container. Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets along with bowls and a manual can opener.

Medicines & Medical Records
Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also good to include.

Pet Containment
Spare or extra leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pet can’t escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet my have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time. Include pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them, to reduce stress.

Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, and household bleach.

Contact Information
Keep addresses and phone numbers of area animal control agencies,emergency veterinary hospitals, boarding facilities, and pet friendly hotels. Be sure to research some outside your local area in case local facilities close.

Other Useful Information
Make sure to have health records, vaccination records, pet feeding schedules and diets, and medication or any special needs.

During A Disaster

Stay Informed
Listen to the emergency broadcast station on your radio to locate pet care providers offering services during the disaster.

If You Don’t Evacuate
Identify a safe area of your home where you and your pets can all stay together. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers - make sure they are wearing identification. Have any medications, a supply of food, and a supply of water inside watertight containers, along with your emergency supplies.

If You Evacuate
Take your pets with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay in the disaster area, it’s not safe for your pets.

As the Disaster Approaches
Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready. Warnings of disasters may be issued hours, or even days, in advance. Call to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.

Bring pets into the house and confine them so you can leave with them quickly if necessary. Make sure your disaster supply kit(s) and contact information are up-to-date and ready.

In Case You‘re Not Home
Make arrangements in advance for a trusted neighbor to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Be sure that the person:

  • Is comfortable with your pets

  • Knows where your animals are likely to be

  • Knows where your disaster supply kits are kept

  • Has a key to your home

After A Disaster

Planning and preparation will help you weather the disaster, but your home may be a very different place afterward.

Don’t Allow Your Pets to Roam Loose
Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pets will probably be disoriented and could easily get lost. For a few days, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the home. If your house is damaged, they could escape and become lost.

Be Patient with Your Pets
Try to return to normal routines as soon as possible and be ready for behavioral problems that may result from the stress of the situation. If behavioral problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.


Portraits by Hilary Running

If You Must Leave Your Pets Behind

If you have no alternative but to leave your pets behind, take the following precautions:

  • Place your pets in a safe, secure room without windows but with good ventilation, such as a bathroom.

  • Leave enough food for at least three days and a sufficient supply of water. Place water in large spill proof container.

  • If you expect flooding, provide access to elevated spaces or counters.

  • Leave familiar bedding and safe toys.

  • Do not confine dogs and cats in the same space.

  • Keep small animals and birds safely caged.

  • Make sure pets are wearing collars and identification tags.

  • Place a notice on your front door advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached, as well as the name and phone number of your veterinarian.

  • Never leave a dog tied outside!


Portraits by Hilary Running